Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

American drivers need to move over and get out of the way!

April 21, 2010

I have grown tired of seeing people of all ages, sexes, races and creeds plodding along in the far left and middle lanes as if no one else on the road had anyplace better to be than behind them.  Is it ignorance, arrogance, obstinacy, or something else? Regardless, it seems to personify the American mentality of no-one-else-matters-but-me.

Granted they may be doing the speed limit, but they are certainly not following the law.

As New Jersey law requires:

On a multi-lane roadway, motorists must drive in the lane nearest to the right-hand edge or curb of the roadway when the lane is available for travel, except when overtaking another vehicle or in preparation for a left turn. (N.J.S.A. 39:4-88)

And so, with much of our police effort focused on speeders and on people that drive while talking on their cell phones, I propose enforcing the law that already exists about staying to the right and do so just as vigorously as the others. Besides raising untold amounts of revenue, we could help rid the roadways of much of their congestion. 

Perhaps we can humble a few of those road hogs at the same time.

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October Update

October 24, 2008

It seems as though ever since I discovered Facebook that I have been writing much less on this Blog.

That’s one excuse out of many that I can think of anyway…that and because work has been busy again.

That trip to Rome that became that trip to California has now become a trip to Maine to visit my sister Susan. With the economy being so bad, we decided to be as frugal as possible. We will be staying north of Boston in Wakefield, Portsmouth New Hampshire, Auburn Maine and then Leominster Massachusetts on the way South.

It may not sound that exciting but since I find myself a few stays behind on my Starwood status, the stops are strategic to say the least. 

Because I am in a “Double Stay Promotion Period” right now, I’ll get six stays and be only one stay short of Platinum. I have a few stays booked already so Platinum should be easily attainable.

In my opinion Starwood is a tough chain to love. Sure they have some of the nicest vacation spots in the world but when you need to go visit Catepillar in Peoria Illinois, good luck finding a Starwood. I find myself driving many extra miles to stay there and even take the train from Chicago when I’m out there to the Four Points near Midway, even though I fly in and out of O’Hare.

Call me a point whore!

I’m not into all of their properties and I much prefer Westins, Sheratons and Four Points to the trendier W, Loft and whatever other hipster hangouts they have been creating. Of course St. Regis and the Luxury Collection are where it’s at but they are rarely where my wallet is at.

As such, the chance to stay at these properties for not much more than $100 per night feels like I’m taking advantage of the system but just like in taxation, rules are to be optimized at every turn.

Since the Trip to Rome didn’t take place, I’ll have lots of points for when it does and still have Platinum status to boot.

With the dollar strengthening, my point balance burgeoning, and the economy hopefully on the mend, I think we’ll do Europe in the Spring for once and not during the “low season”. 

I think we’ll have to squeeze in a few days in Paris though, no matter what, to get me some more of that je ne sais quoi!

Cruisin’ in Newport Coast

July 14, 2008

I’m back in Los Angeles for a week of sales calls and meetings but decided to come out a day early to save some money on airfare and visit a close friend who has a place down in Newport Coast just south of Newport Beach.

Getting up early this morning I picked up my rental car and cruised down the 405 wishing that it was always this empty when I actually needed it to be and not the usual bumper to bumper traffic that it always seems to have every other time I’m on it.

Making Newport Coast in just over an hour, I showed up at my buddy’s place and we decided to grab brunch at Pacific Coast Whey with his 5 year old daughter.

I have to say that the people out here know how to eat as well as they live. My omelet was delicious and served with freshly baked multigrain toast and a large serving of freshly cut fruit with a sprig of parsley on top for presentation. My diner at home, as much as I love their food, simply doesn’t have the same presentation or attention to detail and I’m certain that there are a few extra ounces of grease in my New Jersey rendition.

Needless to say being there was like hanging out on a high fashion runway and I’m the schlep that sticks out like a soar thumb as if I had an I Love NJ bumper sticker pinned on my ass.

Living in what I would consider an affluent part of New Jersey, I am still utterly amazed at the amount of wealth and good looks that are on display in this part of California. I’ve written about Hollywood and Los Angeles before but this is a completely different paradigm.

It’s simply not enough to have a nice car out here. A Porsche 911 simply isn’t enough. The car has to be some exotic model with ultra exotic extras like racing seats or custom wheels and its not just one but I must have counted over 100 Porsches within the few hours that I was down there; Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari you name it!

As much as I like it, I much prefer the East Coast. I would honestly need a hair transplant, a tummy tuck, some Human Growth Hormone and veneers on my teeth to even start to fit in, not to mention a major infusion of cash into my bank account.

If the rest of the country is feeling a recession coming on, it’s not happening here.

Hangin’ in Chi-Town

June 11, 2008

I have luckily escaped the heat back in New Jersey having to be in Chicago this week.

Chicago is one of my favorite cities as it is a real city like New York and Boston. By “real” I mean that people live and work in town and that the towns offer a wide variety of things to do and see all within short distances of each other.

My company’s office is on Whacker on the river in a very nice part of town.

I have gotten to know the subway system quite well as I take the Blue Line Train from O’Hare pretty much to my office and then I take the Orange Line Train out to Midway airport where I can get a Sheraton Four Points for only $129 a night.

Chicago, like New York and Boston, has ridiculous hotel rates downtown and being a devoted Starwood patron and hating to spend more than $200 a night regardless of who is paying, I schlep out to Midway to get my points and save some dough.

Ironically, paying $129 a night at a Four Points gets me a nice room, cheap drinks at the bar, free wireless wi-fi, breakfast in my room for less than $10 and a 24 hour diner attached to the hotel that can serve up a midnight snack of just about anything I might want.

Downtown I would not get half as much for twice the price.

Tonight I think I will linger in town a little and enjoy some of the nightlife up on Rush Street. The Orange Line runs back to Midway 24 hours a day and since it’s the last stop on the line, I don’t have to worry about missing my stop.

The New Way to Explore

April 28, 2008

Kerry and I have discovered a new way to have fun thanks to the wonderful technology found in our Garmin Nuvi.

We decided that for my Birthday weekend we would set out on a trip no more than 50 miles away (Gas is too expensive for any long drives nowadays) and we would use the GPS to make it into an adventure.

We decided that we would first pick a direction by flipping a coin twice; two heads we go south, two tails we go north and one of each we go west.

Standing in our living room, the toss was split so we were bound to go west.

We plugged in Easton Pennsylvania thinking that it would be a good destination but we set the GPS’s navigation criteria for shortest distance, least use of highways and to avoid toll roads.

The resulting journey was incredibly fun, albeit circuitous at times and it took us to places both familiar and new.

It first took us northwest through Summit, Chatham and into Morristown.  It then took us southwest to New Vernon and then west past Jockey Hollow. We connected with Route 124 in Mendham and proceeded westerly from there until we hit Route 57 taking us through Washington Township and then into Phillipsburg and across the Delaware into Easton.

We used the GPS to then find a decent hotel and we ended up spending the night at a Holiday Inn Express that was walking distance to a few good restaurants.

Being an old man of 41 now, I was more interested in a nice meal and an early bedtime than partying the night away so we ate and went back to our room to relax.

In the morning I fired up the GPS to find a church and the small Catholic Church that I found in downtown Easton was delightful.

We then decided to meander home by a more southerly route and once again the GPS showed us places in New Jersey that I never knew existed. Some where quaint and charming, some were rather depressing.

Nevertheless, this new found activity will certainly be one of Kerry’s and my favorite things to do and we are already planning another trip in the coming weeks.

Flighty Advice

January 15, 2008

wow_airplane.jpg

Besides telling stories on my blog, which I like to do but can’t seem to find the time lately, I recently decided to try and share some useful information about products and subject matter that I enjoy.

This has turned out to be dangerous, having recently posted an opinion about my favorite shaving cream, only to receive insult upon insult about how ignorant I am.

Nevertheless, I came across a very useful website that allows you to find the cheapest airfare based upon destination and what is unique to me is that it allows you to look well in advance and months at a time.

So, at the risk of again being ridiculed as a simpleton, I’ll share it with you anyway.

http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch

I hope that somebody enjoys it.

Off to Paris

November 14, 2007

untitled.jpg Be back in a week! I’m hoping for some time to write!

It’s Texas Time!

August 2, 2007

texas-flag.gif 

Howdy Y’all!

 

I’m back in the “Big-D” where I once called home for a few years and where I love to visit as much as I can.

 

Although I have not had this blog for long, I have opined a number of times about the places I go; some with love and affection and some with abhorrent distain.

 

For me, Dallas falls far closer to the affable end of the spectrum, as it is a town with fancy cars, fancy women and a joie de vivre that is inspirational for me; particularly when New York’s carborundum relentlessly grinds me down.

 

Big restaurants, big stores, big houses and lately big storms, are all part of the Dallas way of life.

 

Besides being a darn big state, the people have a darn big outlook on life and all want tangible evidence that life can live up to their expectations.

 

When they say “Don’t mess with Texas” they mean it. How many states can you name where people fly their state flag with such pride?

 

I can’t think of any, other than Texas! 

 

I love it here.

 

A few days in Dallas and I want to conquer the world.

 

If it just wasn’t so darn hot and so darn far away from my son in New Jersey and my beloved Cotuit, I might just take up roots here.

 

However, I’ll be working down here quite a bit over the next few months so I’m sure I’ll get my fill.

 

As they in Texan. “Who-da thunk”!

Honey Please Leave LA!

July 28, 2007

Bordners

The immortal words of James Taylor’s “Honey Don’t Leave LA” ran through my mind last night as I experienced Hollywood Boulevard for the first time and wondered why wouldn’t his honey want to leave LA; it’s a weird place and Hollywood is even weirder.

What I noticed most, is that everything, and I mean everything, is not as it seems in Los Angeles.

Unlike New York, where reality seems harsher than it actually needs to be at times, Los Angeles seems anything but real, even though the illusion may be harsh.

For example, while walking along the Boulevard, I spotted what I thought would be a local “dive” based upon its external décor and the general dilapidation of the area.

I typically like dives, so I aimed myself towards the door and pushed ahead.

To my surprise, what I expected to be a run down watering hole, turned out instead to be an amazingly posh café http://www.boardners.com/ and I soon realized that this was where the deception had only just begun.

Looking around at the sumptuous art deco room, I quickly noticed that I was the only person in the place, so it seemed, that didn’t have countless tattoos gracing every inch of my body or having multiple piercing in all sorts of places that I could see and probably other places that I could only imagine.

How odd I thought it was to see these “punks” gracing such a posh establishment, but as the B-52’s, the Dead Kennedy’s and the Clash played from the internet enabled juke box, I realized that punk must have grown up when I wasn’t paying attention.

I thought that punk was dead.

This juxtaposition of “grunge” meets “glitz” seemed surreal at first as I observed the inked and pierced patrons imbibe drinks like Sapphires and Tonics, Cosmos and Manhattans while I sat drinking my omnipresent Jim Beam on the rocks.

I was confused.

Not feeling comfortable enough to strike up a conversation and feeling like a preppy that had fallen down a rabbit hole, I sipped my drink and watched their camaraderie as if watching men come in from the 18th hole of their golf club.

It just couldn’t get any weirder.

When the man beside me, laden with more ink than a Guttenberg Bible, pulled out a dainty cigarette case ordained with some unrecognizable yet obviously sinister logo, my eyes must have widened as I watched him proceed to pay for his tab with a platinum American Express card.

For all I know, they all winter in the South of France.